Supreme Court Rules Communications Decency Act Unconstitutional

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the 1996 Communications Decency Act violates freedom of speech guarantees. The law restricted free expression on the Internet, ostensibly to protect children from material intended for adults. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the seven-member majority that the law went too far in restricting adults’ access to material they otherwise would be entitled to see. The law made it a crime punishable by up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine to publish indecent material on the Internet in a manner available to those under 18 years of age. While intended to ban pornography, the vaguely written law threatened to censor valid forms of expression, including information regarding abortion services.


The New York Times - June 26, 1997